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Maryland State Dog

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Maryland Dog: Chesapeake Bay Retriever

(C. l. familiaris)

Adopted in 1964

In 1964 the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, (C. l. familiaris,) named after the famous bay region of the breed's origin, was declared the official dog of Maryland

(Chapter 156, Acts of 1964; Code State Government Article, sec. 13-303)

A working dog bred to recover waterfowl for hunters, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is one of only a few breeds actually developed in the United States. Nonetheless, the history of this dog is unclear. Legend tells of an English vessel shipwrecked off the coast of Maryland in the early nineteenth century. Among the survivors were two young dogs of a Newfoundland breed. Supposedly bred to local coonhounds, they evolved into the present-day Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Maryland State Dog: Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Maryland Dog: Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a breed of dog belonging to the Retriever, Gundog, and Sporting breed groups. Members of the breed may also be referred to as a Chessie, CBR, or Chesapeake. The breed was developed in the United States Chesapeake Bay area during the 19th century. Historically used by area market hunters to retrieve waterfowl, it is primarily a family pet and hunting companion. They are often known for their love of water and their ability to hunt. It is a medium to large sized dog similar in appearance to the Labrador Retriever. The Chesapeake have a wavy coat, rather than the Labrador's smooth coat. They are described as having a bright and happy disposition, courage, willingness to work, alertness, intelligence, and love of water as some of their characteristics

The American Kennel Club registered its first Chesapeake Bay Retriever in 1878. By then, a definite type had evolved with characteristics suited to the often rigorous duck hunting conditions around Chesapeake Bay. Dogs of the breed are intelligent with powerful bodies of moderate size and strong jaws. Their double coats, with a coarse, wavy outer coat and a fine woolly undercoat containing lots of natural oils, protect them from icy waters. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers may be brown, sedge, or dead grass, colors which blend with their hunting environment.

The Chesapeake Bay retriever is hardy enough to not only withstand, but also relish, repeated plunges into icy water. It loves to swim and retrieve. Despite an active life when outdoors, inside it tends to be calm. The Chessie tends to be independent, although it is eager to learn. It is reserved with strangers and can be protective; it also can be aggressive toward strange dogs if challenged. This is the hardiest, most strong-willed and protective of the retriever breeds.

Retrievers are characterized by their versatility, strength, endurance, and loyal devotion. These dogs excel in field and obedience trials. As service dogs, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are found working with drug enforcement agencies, and visiting hospitals and nursing homes. Some are trained for search and rescue work, even as avalanche or sled dogs.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the official mascot of the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Maryland Law

The law designating the Chesapeake Bay retriever as the official Maryland state dog is found in the Maryland Statutes, Title 13, Section 13-303.


The Chesapeake Bay retriever is the State dog.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: C. lupus
     Subspecies: C. l. familiaris

State Mammals
State Mammals & Animals
Mammals are vertebrates (backboned animals) that feed their young on mother's milk.
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